On the Ground
It was barely 10 degrees on an early Friday morning in January when SFW answered the call from Utah Division of Wildlife biologists and DWR Director Greg Sheehan to help feed mule deer in northern Utah. That’s because Winter 2016-17 has already dished out some of the harshest conditions in nearly 10 years – and mule deer in the northern reaches of the state are facing the brunt of it.
“DWR biologists have been monitoring deer and winter range conditions across Utah closely this winter,” Director Sheehan said. “Weather in the Bear Lake Valley is an anomaly compared to other locations in the state. Although weather has been severe across parts of Utah this winter, the Bear Lake area is the only location where emergency deer feeding needs to happen recently. We’re prepared to feed deer in other locations, though, if the need arises. These deer are exhausted, confused and without options. They need help.”
DWR biologists and the deer got the help needed from SFW. Board Member Kurt Wood, SFW Cache Chapter Chairman Jason Lundahl, SFW member Travis Hobbs of Garden City and others met DWR personnel in the dark of 6 am the morning after a 30-inch snow fall and extended periods of below freezing temperatures.
“One person in particular — Travis Hobbs — has been a tremendous help,” Sheehan says. “Travis owns a construction business in Garden City. He’s letting us store 12 tons of specially designed pellets in his warehouse. And he and his employees are donating their time and their heavy equipment to clear snow out of areas so we can spread pellets for the deer to eat. We simply couldn’t do what we’re doing without their help.”
This is the first time emergency deer feeding has been needed in Utah since 2008, according to Justin Dolling, Northern Region Supervisor for the DWR.
“We are feeding the deer a specially formulated pellet that meets the unique nutritional needs and digestive systems deer have,” Dolling said. “The specially formulated pellet is specially formulated to give deer the correct balance of energy and protein the animals need. Products other than this pellet can actually hurt the deer. We appreciate the concern many folks have about deer in Utah this winter, but we strongly discourage people from feeding deer on their own.”